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The Benefits of Multiple-Win Technologies in Agri-Food Systems


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Shenggen Fan
Australasian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society (AARES) Annual Conference
Melbourne, Australia
February 12, 2019

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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The Benefits of Multiple-Win Technologies in Agri-Food Systems

  1. 1. The Benefits of Multiple-Win Technologies in Agri-food Systems Shenggen Fan Director General International Food Policy Research Institute Australasian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society (AARES) Melbourne, Australia February 12, 2019
  2. 2. Shenggen Fan, February 2019 2 Climate change Conflict, hunger, and famine Rapid population growth and urbanization Anti-globalization Global agri-food systems face grant challenges
  3. 3. Shenggen Fan, February 2019 3 Source: UNICEF/WHO/WB 2018 Without accelerated progress, hunger and malnutrition will persist beyond 2030 Source: FAO 2018 Undernourished population (millions) We are not on track on SDG 2 Source: WHO 2018 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 2000 2005 2010 2015 2020 2025 2030 Number of people undernourished Forecast Upper bound forecast Lower bound forecast Children affected by stunting (millions) 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 Children affected by stunting Forecast 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015 2020 2025 2030 Overweight (BMI≥25) Forecast Upper bound forecast Lower bound forecast Prevalence of adult overweight (%)
  4. 4. Shenggen Fan, February 2019 4 Source: Campbell et al. 2017 Under BAU, agriculture will almost reach 2°C target emission for all sectors in 2050 (~21 GtCO2e/yr) Agriculture is pushing planetary boundaries Climate mitigation requires dramatic transformation Source: Bajželj et al. 2014 BAU 2° target by 2050 2009 emissions from agriculture CT1 = Current yield trend CT2 = Current yield trend & 50% food waste reduction CT3 = Current yield trend & 50% food waste reduction & Healthy diets YG1 = Yield gap closure (sustainable intensification) YG2 = Yield gap closure & 50% food waste reduction YG3 = Yield gap closure & 50% food waste reduction & Healthy diets And planetary health is increasingly at risk
  5. 5. Shenggen Fan, February 2019 5 Automation and mechanization  Increasing use of machines and electronics in agriculture  Implications on youth unemployment – need to move jobs to post-harvest service sector Hydroponic, vertical or indoor farming  Estimated US$750 million in North American private investment in vertical farming (through Q3 2017)  Economically viable and sustainable Biotechnology (e.g. Gene sequencing)  Dramatic reduction in cost per genome  Sequenced crop genomes could improve agriculture in challenging climates Source: Indoor Ag-Con 2016 Technological innovations on the rise in and beyond agriculture Source: Thottathil, Jayasekaran, and Othman 2016, NIH 2018 While there have been significant advances in technology in and beyond agriculture, technological regulation is a growing concern
  6. 6. 6 It is critical to reinforce the benefits of multiple-win technologies for healthy and sustainable agri-food systems
  7. 7. Shenggen Fan, February 2019 7 Photos: ICRISAT, HarvestPlus Biofortification • Vitamin- and mineral-rich crops grown and consumed in over 30 countries • More than 30 million people are consuming one or more of 12 biofortified crops globally (HarvestPlus) • Girls and boys consuming biofortified pearl millet in India saw greater improvement in some cognitive performance (attention and memory) than those consuming non-fortified millet (Scott et al. 2018) Iron beans Vit. A maize Iron pearl millet Zinc wheat Vit. A cassava Vit. A orange sweet potato Zinc rice Nutrition-driven & nutrition-sensitive technologies are crucial for health
  8. 8. Shenggen Fan, February 2019 8 Photos: RIICE, AgriLife, ICRISAT  Remote-sensing technologies for enhanced resilience and resource use efficiency • Remote sensing-based Information and Insurance for Crops in Emerging economies (RIICE) maps and observes rice growth in Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam to facilitate crop insurance and guard against crop failure • Handheld crop sensor (Greenseeker) assessing plant nitrogen needs increased profit by $37/hectare and avoided over 9,500 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions for wheat farmers in Mexico (CIMMYT)  Precision agriculture for sustainable yield enhancements • Microdosing in Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso saw millet yields increase by over 50% & better water absorption (ICRISAT)  Improved, climate-resilient varieties • Disease-resistant lentil varieties increased yields by 27% in Bangladesh (ICARDA) • Cross-bred soy bean varieties in Brazil are more tolerant of acidic soil, shorter life cycles contributes to greater yield Key technologies can promote sustainability
  9. 9. Shenggen Fan, February 2019 9 Source: Rosegrant et al. 2014 Modelling system for environmental impact of 11 agricultural technologies No-till Nitrogen-use efficiency Drought-tolerant varieties Heat-tolerant varieties Integrated soil fertility management Water harvesting Precision agriculture Crop protection Organic agriculture Drip irrigation Sprinkler irrigation Impact of sustainable intensification technologies can be modelled
  10. 10. Shenggen Fan, February 2019 10 Source: WEF  Alternative proteins to reduce GHGs, environmental impact, health risks • Production of cultured meat involves up to 96% lower GHG emissions and water use, and 99% lower land use depending on conventional meat product compared (Thottathil, Jayasekaran, and Othman 2016; Toumisto 2011)  Gene sequencing and editing for seed improvements • Can help produce more crops and increase farmer incomes • Can also improve nutrition outcomes  Big data and analytics to lower transaction costs, improve monitoring (e.g. CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture 2017-2022) • Platform to lead in organizing open data, convening partners, and demonstrating the power of big data analytics  Breeding programs to support developing countries (e.g. CGIAR Excellence in Breeding Platform) • Draws innovations from public and private sectors to provide access to cutting-edge tools, services and best practices, training and practical advice New & established technologies have great potential to be scaled up
  11. 11. Shenggen Fan, February 2019 11 Photos: ICRAF, CCAFS Source: CGIAR FTA 2018, CCAFS 2014 Farmer-led innovations can help reduce duration of food shortages and severity of hunger, and contribute to household welfare Planting basins to conserve water and improve food supply • Use of basins for maize helped a community farmers in Kenya manage the drought season Ever-green farming • Integrating trees into food crop systems in Kenya has prevented soil erosion, while enhancing nitrogen fixation and providing firewood, timber, and animal fodder Source: Tambo and Wunscher 2017 Farmer-led innovations are important complements
  12. 12. 12 Multiple-win technologies will be imperative to go beyond business-as-usual, but will require investments and effective regulations